German terrorist kills 15 at school
March 12, 2009
WINNENDEN, Germany (Reuters) – A 17-year-old German terrorist went on a shooting spree at his former school in southwest Germany Wednesday, killing up to 15 people before dying himself in a shootout with police, authorities said.The former student, dressed in black combat gear, entered the Albertville-Realschule in Winnenden, a town of 27,000 near Stuttgart, at around 9.30 a.m. (4:30 a.m. EDT) and began firing.
Police said the terrorist killed nine students and three teachers at the school, as well as one person at a nearby clinic, before fleeing with a hostage in a car.
He was killed in a shootout with police at a car dealership roughly 30 km (20 miles) from the school. Two passers-by died in the shootout and two policemen were seriously wounded, bringing the total death toll to 16 including the gunman.
It was not clear whether the gunman had been shot by police or taken his own life.
“Nobody can understand it,” said Roberto Seifert, who works at a business near the school. “You can see it in the faces of the police too. Everyone is in shock. The mood's very subdued here.”
Erwin Hetger, police chief in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg said: “I've been president of police here for 19 years now, and I can't remember a deed as terrible as this.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was due to make a statement on the shootings at 4 p.m. (11:00 a.m. EDT).
“The chancellor and the entire government are deeply shocked and appalled by the terrible killing spree in Winnenden,” her spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told a government news conference.
The shooting is the latest to shock Germany in recent years. In 2006, a masked man armed with rifles and explosives attacked a school in the western town of Emsdetten, wounding at least 11 people before committing suicide.
In April 2002, Germany suffered its worst school shooting when a gunman killed 17 people, including himself, at a high school in the eastern city of Erfurt.
Germany has strict weapons laws, with gunholders having to fulfill certain criteria on age and weapons expertise to obtain a license for firearms.
The killing spree Wednesday followed a rampage in the United States Tuesday in which a gunman shot dead 10 people then killed himself in southern Alabama.
Details on the gunman were murky, but German television reported that he may have used a legally-registered gun that were kept in his family's home.
Helmut Rau, culture minister from the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, quoted the head of the school as saying the youth had been an unremarkable student.
“Evidently he had a double identity,” Rau quoted her as saying.
Police said the gunman had entered two classrooms at his former school, a two-storey modern white building, and fired at pupils indiscriminately.
The pupils were probably aged between 14 and 16, police said. Eight died immediately and another died later from injuries.
The school was evacuated and rescue workers, fire fighters and heavily-armed black-clad SWAT teams rushed to the scene. Helicopters circled above the historic market town, which had been largely sealed off.
Winnenden, whose origins stretch back to the 12th century, is the hometown of German firm Kaercher, a maker of high pressure cleaners.